Ethical Impulses & Physical Health

In all our intercourse with the world outside, we make use of the body as an instrument, and according as we use it skillfully and well, or badly and clumsily, we occasion, at any rate in part, the events that befall us. And then, in the further lives that follow, come new compensation and balancing-out. Thus in the spiritual world we find the formative forces that belong to our moral life. The moral world becomes for us a reality.

We see how an ethical impulse cannot in one earth-life effect a change in the physical body, but when it passes over into the next life on earth, can work there quite definitely as a health-giving influence, no less truly than heat works in the physical world, or light, or electricity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 231 – Spiritual Knowledge: A Way of Life – The Hague, November 16th, 1923

Translated by Mary Adams

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What we call our world is dependent upon our capacities and organs

We are conscious of the world round about us, because we have certain capacities and organs which enable us to perceive it. If we had other organs, this world would present an entirely different aspect. For example, if a man had no eyes enabling him to see the light, but an organ enabling him instead to perceive electricity, then he would not see this room flooded with light, but he would perceive electricity in every wire, flashing, streaming through it. — The world round about us, what we call our world, is therefore dependent upon our sense-organs.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – Theosophy and Rosicrucianism: Lecture IV: Man’s Further Destinies in the Spiritual Worlds – Kassel, 19th June 1907

The development of human civilization involves the participation of elemental spirits, even if people do not know about it

As you know, not long ago growing numbers of impulses came into human evolution which did not exist before and which are quite characteristic of our present civilization. Try and go back in your mind to times not very long ago. You will find times when there were no steam locomotives, when people did not yet use electricity as we do now; times perhaps when only thinkers like Leonardo da Vinci were able to have the idea, theoretically and on the basis of experiments, that humans could create apparatus which would enable them to fly. All this has come to realization in a relatively short time. Just consider how much depends on the use of steam, of electricity, of the changes in atmospheric density which has made airships possible, or the knowledge of statics which has led to the aeroplane. Consider everything which has come into human evolution in recent times. Think of the destructive powers of dynamite, etc., and you can easily imagine, seeing how swiftly this has gone, that new and different fabulous things of this kind will be the goal of future human endeavour. I think you can easily see that the ideal for the near future will be to have not more and more Goethes, but more and more Edisons. This really is the ideal of modern humanity.

Modern people do, of course, believe that all this — the telegraph, telephones, the use of steam Power, etc. — happens without the participation of spiritual entities. This is not the case, however. The development of human civilization involves the participation of elemental spirits, even if people do not know about it. Modern materialists imagine that the telephone and telegraph, and the steam engines driven long distances and also used by farmers, have been constructed merely on the basis of what people produce by the sweat of their brow. Everything people do in this respect is under the influence of elemental spirits. They are always involved and helping us in this. People are not taking the initiative on their own in this field — they are guided. In laboratories, workshops, really everywhere where the spirit of invention is active, elemental spirits are providing the inspiration.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 – Fall of the Spirits of Darkness: LECTURE 4: The Elemental Spirits of Birth and Death – Dornach, 6th October 1917

Translated by Anna R. Meuss

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Previously posted on December 23, 2014

In practice things are different from what they seem to be in theory – 4 (End)

When can a theory not hold its own in life? When it is produced by means of a thinking that is not trained for life. Now the teachings of the science of spirit are just as much the real laws of life as are the theories of electricity for a factory for electrical apparatus. In setting up such a factory we have first to acquaint ourselves with theories about electricity. And in order to work in life we have to know the laws of life. The teachings of the science of spirit may appear to be remote from life, but they are, in fact, just the opposite. To a superficial view they appear divorced from the world; to a true understanding they reveal life. It is not just out of curiosity that we retire into a “spiritual-scientific circle,” in order to get hold of all sorts of “interesting” information about the worlds beyond, but we train our thinking, feeling and willing on the “eternal laws of existence” in order to enter into life and to understand it clearly. The teachings of the science of spirit are a roundabout way to thinking, judging and feeling according to life. — The movement for the science of spirit will not be rightly orientated until this is fully realized. Right action arises out of right thinking, and wrong action arises out of wrong thinking or out of a lack of thinking. If we believe that something good can be brought about in the social sphere, we have to admit that it depends on human capacities. Working through the ideas of the science of spirit brings about an increase in the capacities needed for working in social life. In this connection it is not simply a matter of which thoughts we acquire through the science of spirit, but of what is made of our thinking through them.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – Reincarnation and ImmortalityThe science of spirit and the social question – 1905

Previously posted on February 8, 2014

Everything surrounding us is the external expression of the spiritual world

So it is possible to go, or rather to slip, from the sense world into the supersensible world and to live there as well as here. That does not mean life in never-never land, but life in a realm that clarifies and explains life in our realm. Just as the usual person who has not studied electricity would not understand all the wonderful workings in a factory powered by electricity, so the average person does not understand the occurrences in the spiritual world. The visitor at the factory will lack understanding as long as he remains ignorant of the laws of electricity. So also will man lack understanding in the realm of the spirit as long as he does not know the laws of the spiritual. There is nothing in our world that is not dependent on the spiritual world at every moment. Everything surrounding us is the external expression of the spiritual world. There is no materiality. Everything material is condensed spirit. For the person looking  into the spiritual world, the whole material, sense-perceptible world, the world in general, becomes spiritualized. As ice melts into water through the effect of the sun, so everything sense-perceptible melts into something spiritual within the soul which looks into the spiritual world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Esoteric Development: Lecture I – Berlin, 7th December 1905

Translated by Gertrude Teutsch

Previously posted on 24th November 2013

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Portrait by Amke Hulsbos